What’s your dream kitchen?

breakfast bar2We’ve been in our house now for eight years, and the kitchen has always been good enough, as in there was nothing so wrong with it that justified replacing it. This year though the units began actually falling to pieces and the oven began burning cakes on one side while leaving them underdone on the other, meaning I finally convinced my husband that we should completely refit, with new floor, units, worktops and ovens.

I spent a lot of time looking on sites like pintrest and through google image search to decide what kind of style would look good. Our table and some free standing cupboards are oak so I knew I wanted wood in the design some how. At first I thought about cream units and wooden work tops but after a bit of research it seemed like wooden worktops would take a lot of maintenance and potentially not be very hygienic, so I decided on wooden cupboards instead. With wooden cupboards I knew I wanted a composite worktop which would be better quality than the cheaper laminates on the market. After considering a high gloss black option I eventually decided on Getacore Ivory Raindrops which is a cream quartz-like effect. This makes the room lighter and brighter and matches perfectly the “Burleigh” (now “Kamber”) high gloss porcelain tiles which we chose.

Kitchen side viewThe kitchen is from the Howden’s Tewkesbury Light Oak range with solid wood doors. We looked at vinyl wrapped mdf doors similar to our original kitchen but the Teweksbury range was such a beautiful finish that there was – in the end – no comparison. We were also slightly limited by the fact that I knew from the start that I wanted curved cupboards at the end of the breakfast bar and not all ranges offered this. The end result is very sleek and gives us extra storage, although it did mean finding a built in bin of a reasonable size to replace the one we used to have at the end of the breakfast bar for recycling and general waste. The food and general-waste bins are now both hidden in cupboards under the hob and sink, making the kitchen look tidier and also meaning no more opening germ ridden lids to throw something away -  we just open the cupboard doors.

Ovens and breakfast bar 2Ever since we moved into our house I’ve known that if we re-did our kitchen I wanted eye-level ovens built into a tower unit on the wall – originally this space had wall and floor cupboards with some extra worksurface, but being able to see at a glance how the food is doing more than makes up for this. I chose Neff slide ‘n hide ovens so that children running ’round corners have less chance of bumping into open doors and our existing microwave was fitted in above the ovens to clear off the remaining worktop space. We further reduced clutter on our worktops by investing in a Grohe Red Duo tap which produces boiling water and gets rid of the need for a kettle – the only down side I would say to this solution (apart from the price) is that the tank, filter and other attachments needed for the tap take up a lot of space themselves, limiting space under the sink to the point that we ended up with the tank itself in the neighbouring cupboard so that we could still fit our food waste bin under the sink.

hobWe chose a Bosch induction hob which can just be wiped clean – a much easier job than with our old gas hob – you just have to check any pans you buy are magnetic – no expensive copper bottomed pans for me!

Howden’s is a company which works with independent fitters – it means that rather than going into a shop and designing your kitchen then meeting the person fitting the day they start work, you find your kitchen fitter first then work with them to design what you want. Having heard of lots of problems with store designed kitchens not fitting quite right I liked this idea – we worked with our fitter Pete from IKF Chester Ltd (who was recommended by a friend) from the start, meaning that he saw the layout of the room, understood what I wanted to achieve and worked with us to fit in all the fiddly bits and pieces I wanted. I can highly recommend IKF Chester Ltd. – they worked really hard to get everything just as I wanted it, even when the mosaic tiles I’d chosen as part of the splash-backs arrived and were about half the thickness of the surrounding tiles.

tap and blindsFinally I chose green accents and bought blinds with a “Budding Blossom Grass” design from Web Blinds, some Joseph and Joseph green and cream bits and bobs and used green hand towels which I already had. Overall I think I now have my dream kitchen – what would yours look like?


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Hot cross buns

Hot cross bunsApparently hot cross buns are supposed to be eaten on good Friday (the end of lent). I’m clearly a rebel because I made them on the Wednesday night and took them to work on the Thursday. This was my first ever attempt at hot cross buns and I think they look pretty good considering, I combined a couple of recipes I found online to produce my very own version.





Hot cross buns
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  1. 500g strong white bread flour
  2. 7g dried yeast
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 75g castor sugar
  5. 1 egg (beaten)
  6. 300ml whole milk
  7. 50g unsalted butter (softened)
  8. 75g sultanas
  9. 50g mixed peel
  10. zest of 1 orange
  11. zest of 1 lemon
  12. 1 pink lady apple (peeled, cored and chopped)
  13. 1 tsp cinnamon
  14. 1 tsp mixed spice
  15. 4 tablespoons plain flour and a little water
  16. Apricot jam to glaze
For the first prove
  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl (place the salt on the opposite side of the bowl to the yeast)
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients
  3. Warm the milk for one minute in a microwave
  4. Add the milk and beaten egg to the dry ingredients and stir
  5. Add the softened butter and knead (either use a free standing mixer with a dough hook or by hand) until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes.)
  6. Once the dough is smooth and elastic cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to prove for at least an hour until doubled in size.
For the second prove
  1. in a separate bowl mix together the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, lemon zest, apple, cinnamon and mixed spice
  2. Knock back the dough and then gradually knead in the fruit, adding a little more flour as required to allow for the moisture in the apple
  3. Split the dough into about 16 buns and place on a buttered and floured baking tray
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 220c (200c fan)
  5. Cover with a tea towel / cling film and leave to prove for at least 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  6. Mix the plain flour and water to a thick paste and place in a piping bag or freezer bag
  7. Cut the point / corner off the bag and pipe a cross onto the top of each bun
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding.
  9. Remove the buns and place on a cooling rack
  10. Warm a little apricot jam and pass through a sieve to remove any lumps
  11. Brush the apricot jam onto the buns while still warm then leave to cool
Mummy makes cakes http://jaisee.com/mummymakescakes/
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Haagen Dazs belgian chocolate icecream for chocolate week

IMG_0752This week the lovely people at Hagen Dazs were kind enough to send me some vouchers so I could try some of their great flavours for national chocolate week. My particular favourite was the belgian chocolate which is so delicious and indulgent. There is also another new flavor which fits perfectly with the recent trend for salted caramel. “Chocolate salted caramel” – yum! Other old favourites of mine and my husband’s are the cookies and cream and pralines and cream. Basically we really really like their ice creams and will often have them on a movie night or lazy evening on the sofa. We inroduced our kids to the Back to the Future franchise this week, because last Wednesday was the day Marty Mcfly travels to in his future. The film skipped quite a few scenes we didn’t think were suitable for a 4 and 6 year old but my husband still loved sharing one of his favourite films with his children. The perfect type of family film to watch with icecream.


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Classic carrot cake

carrot cake 4 This carrot cake is adapted from the cake I made for Simba the Lion’s birthday a couple of years ago. As well as using lemon juice to sour the milk in this recipe I also added some orange juice to increase the range of flavours. Originally I was just going to make a showstopper Winnie the Pooh cake and iced buns this weekend but I took a carrot cake to work last weeka nd my children asked if they could make another one for them to eat. They really enjoyed the weighing and measuring and apparently it’s the nicest carrot cake ever!!!

For the cake:

300g light muscavado sugar
2 eggs – beaten
100ml whole milk
Juice of half a lemon
50ml of orange juice
300ml corn oil
300g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
half tsp ground ginger
half tsp salt
half tsp vanilla extract
300g grated carrots
100g shelled walnuts – chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 170 c / 325 f and grease and line 2 x 20 cm tins

  • Add the lemon juice to the milk to sour it. (Alternatively you could use buttermilk).
  • Add the orange juice to the milk also.
  • Place the sugar, eggs, soured milk, oil and vanilla extract in a free-standing mixer and beat to combine.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and continue to beat until smooth.
  • Add the grated carrots and chopped walnuts then stir by hand to distribute evenly.
  • Pour into the two tins and level the mixture
  • Place in the preheated oven for about 40 min or until a cake tester / knife comes out clean.
  • Turn out onto racks to cool

For the cream cheese frosting

600g icing sugar
100g butter – softened
250g cream cheese – cold

    • In a free-standing mixer beat the icing sugar and butter together until combined.
    • Add the cream cheese and beat at a medium speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
      be careful not to over beat the frosting or the cream cheese will split and become runny.
    • Use a palate knife to spread the frosting evenly and add extra chopped walnuts on top for decorationcarrot cake 7
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Winnie the Pooh showstopper cake

The grewinnie main 2at British bake off finished for another year this week and I really think the right person won this year. The final showstopper challenge was a multi tiered classic British cake and one of my favourites is lemon cake. I wanted to make the decoration for the cake classically British as well and one of my favourite children’s books provided the inspiration. Winnie the pooh by A. A. Milne with the original illustrations by E. H. Shepard. The stories seemed perfect as they are part of so many people’s childhood, have some beautiful quotes in them and after all, what goes better with honey than lemon (cake)?

I admit that unlike the cakes in the final I only made two tiers as lemon cake and made the bottom tier as chocolate orange cake – simply because there’s only so much lemon cake that one family of four needs. I made tempered chocolate trees for the top tier, which is based on when Pooh and Piglet nearly catch a Woozle, I made a tempered chocolate house for Eeyore which stood at the base of the cake and I also made dark and white tempered chocolate honey pots filled with a white chocolate ganache.  The bottom two tiers are inspired by Winne the Pooh and some bees, when Pooh pretends to be a little black raincloud to get to the bees’ honey. In the collage picture you can see the detail on the cake and also the artwork which inspired it.

winnie the pooh cake collageOne of my favourite quotes from the Winnie the Pooh stories is “As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen”, it makes me think of when my children were born and I knew that life was never going to be the same. 

Winne the Pooh, Eeyore and the balloon are made from flower paste which dries harder than normal fondant and decorated with the same black water icing I used for the quote,the buzzing bees around Pooh and the footprints in the snow. The tree is made from normal fondant icing – the same kind I used to cover the cakes and the cake drum (board).

To fill and crumb coat all three of the cakes the cakes I made a lemon frosting with the juice from the lemons whose zest I used in the lemon cakes. See below the recipe for a look inside the cakes.


Winnie the Pooh lemon and chocolate orange showstopper
Serves 30
Two tiers of lemon cake on top of a base tier of chocolate orange cake, filled with lemon frosting and decorated with fondant icing and tempered chocolate. You will need two 6 inch tins, to 8 inch tins and two 9 inch tins.
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For the lemon cakes
  1. 500g Caster sugar
  2. 500g Unsalted butter (softened)
  3. 8 eggs (beaten)
  4. 500g Self raising flour
  5. Zest of 5 lemons
  6. Approximately 50ml of whole milk (may vary)
For the chocolate orange cake
  1. 500g Caster sugar
  2. 500g Unsalted butter (softened)
  3. 8 eggs (beaten)
  4. 410g Self raising flour
  5. 90g Cocoa powder
  6. Zest of 3 large oranges
  7. Approximately 75ml of whole milk (may vary)
For the lemon frosting
  1. 1Kg icing sugar
  2. 320g Unsalted butter (softened)
  3. 100ml whole milk
  4. Lemon juice to taste - I like this quite tangy.
To decorate
  1. 2Kg Ready to roll fondant icing
  2. Various gel food colourings
  3. 1 pack flower and modeling paste
  4. 200g Dark Belgian cooking chocolate
  5. 50g White Belgian cooking chocolate
  6. 50ml double cream
  7. Water icing
For the Lemon cakes
  1. Grease and line two 6 inch tins and two 8 inch tins. Preheat the oven to 160c fan or 180c non-fan.
  2. In a freestanding mixer cream together the butter and sugar until pale and mousse like.
  3. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time (add a few spoonfuls of the flour if the mixture starts to split).
  4. Stir in the flour.
  5. Stir in the lemon zest.
  6. Add the whole milk a little at a time until the mixture falls easily from a spoon.
  7. Split the mixture between the four cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Bear in mind that the smaller cakes may bake faster than the larger cakes and may need to be taken out earlier.
  8. Remove the cakes from the tins and leave to cool on wire racks.
For the Chocolate orange cake
  1. Grease and line two 9 inch tins. Preheat the oven to 160c fan or 180c non-fan.
  2. In a freestanding mixer cream together the butter and sugar until pale and mousse like.
  3. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time (add a few spoonfuls of the flour if the mixture starts to split).
  4. Mix together the flour and cocoa powder then stir into the egg mixture.
  5. Stir in the orange zest.
  6. Add the whole milk a little at a time until the mixture falls easily from a spoon - you will need to add more milk than for the lemon cakes as the cocoa powder makes the mixture more dry.
  7. Split the mixture between the four cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cakes from the tins and leave to cool on wire racks.
For the lemon frosting
  1. In a freestanding mixer cream together the icin sugar and softened butter.
  2. Add the whole milk and mix on high speed until the mixture is smooth and light.
  3. While continuing to mix add lemon juice to taste - I added about 50ml but I like my frosting quite tangy.
For the decoration
  1. Level the cakes with a cake leveler or bread knife.
  2. Colour your fondant as appropriate, roll out on a non-stick mat then invert onto the cakes, peel off the mat and carefully smooth to remove any creases. Cut off excess fondant using a pizza wheel or knife.
  3. Temper the dark and white chocolate using the seeding method. I used chocolate moulds to make the honey pots and piped freehand onto grease- proof paper to make the sticks for Eeyore's house. To make the trees I sketched one on white paper and laid greaseproof paper on top before piping, moving the template along after creating each tree. Winnie the pooh, Eeyore and the balloon were made by hand from modeling paste, the tree nusing sugar craft tools from normal fondant.
  4. To make the white chocolate ganache filling for the honey pots add the cream (room temperature) to the tempered white chocolate and stir until combined then fill the chocolate honey pots, freeze for 10 minutes then join together with more tempered dark chocolate.
Mummy makes cakes http://jaisee.com/mummymakescakes/

Inside the lemon cakes were a consistent texture just as Paul and Mary asked for. The chocolate orange cake came out pretty well too. Also below are a few photos of the making process.
Winnie the pooh collage 2
For some reason this week also made a classic carrot cake and some iced buns.

Mummy Mishaps


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Baked chocolate tart

chocolate tart 1This week was chocolate week in the Great British Bake Off. I did briefly consider making a chocolate centre-piece, however spending most of the weekend at my brother in law’s wedding meant that realistically it wasn’t going to happen.

I decided to make a chocolate tart and first looked at a nice easy one with pomegranate on the Tesco Baking Ideas  section. It looked nice and quick but being a glutten for punishment I eventually decided on a baked chocolate tart with a heart pattern.

I adapted my normal sweet pastry ti be a chocolate pastry and made a chocolate custard which I then baked. To make the heart pattern simply pipe dots of white chocolate custard in a spiral pattern then starting at the centre of the spiral draw a skewer slowly through all the dots in the spiral to turn them into hearts.

Baked chocolate tart
Serves 12
A chocolate pastry case containing a baked dark chocolate custard with white chocolate custard used for decoration.
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For the pastry
  1. 110g Plain flour
  2. 15g Cocoa powder
  3. 15g Castor sugar
  4. 75g Unsalted butter
  5. 1 egg yolk
  6. For the filling
  7. 3 Eggs (beaten)
  8. 300ml Double cream
  9. 1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
  10. 300g dark chocolate (melted)
  11. 50g white chocolate (melted)
For the pastry
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C fan
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, cocoa and sugar
  3. Rub in the butter
  4. Stir in the egg yolk and kneed briefly to make sure the egg is distributed evenly
  5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes
  6. Grease a 9 inch fluted tart tin using your fingers to get right into the ridges
  7. Roll out the pastry on a non-stick mat or grease proof paper
  8. Turn the pastry into the tin and push into the edges
  9. Cut off the excess pastry from the top and line with grease proof paper and baking beans
  10. Bake for 15 minutes at 180c fan then remove from the oven, remove the grease proof paper and baking beans and make the filling
For the filling
  1. Set your oven to 150 fan
  2. Heat the cream in a pan until it starts to look fuzzy but doesn't boil
  3. Mix the vanilla essence with the beaten eggs and pour into the cream whisking continually
  4. Remove the custard from the heat and continue to mix until it thickens and begins to cool.
  5. Pour about 50ml of the custard into a bowl and keep to one side
  6. Add the melted dark chocolate to the remaining custard and mix until smooth
  7. Pour into the blind baked tart case
  8. Add the melted white chocolate to the 50mlof custard placed to one side and mix until smooth
  9. Place the white chocolate custard in a piping bag and pipe dots in a spiral from the centre to the outside of the tart.
  10. Starting again at the centre draw a skewer / cocktail stick slowly around the spiral to turn the dots into hearts
  11. Bake for 20 minutes then turn off your oven, open the door and leave the tart in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  12. Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing the tart from the tin
Mummy makes cakes http://jaisee.com/mummymakescakes/

This week Tesco very kindly sent me some vouchers to help me make my baked chocolate tart, I got a great selection of baking goodies which went into making my chocolate tart.  chocolate tart 2chocolate tart 3tesco





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Nectarine and raspberry frangipane tart

This week’s GBBO was pastry so I had a go at something new – a frangipane tart, I added nectarines and a layer ofraspbery jam at the bottom.
frangipane 2I used the sweet pastry which I made previously for my summer berry meringue pies and blind baked the case before baking the filling. Stork had kindly sent me some vouchers to try their margarine and it worked really well for the tart filling, easier to mix in than butter and tasting just as nice.



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Spanish Windtorte

windtorteSo I decided to have a go at the technical challenge from this week’s GBBO, all very last minute and rushed (slightly cheating because it’s all normal meringue but here it is in all it’s sugary glory. It’s made with traditional meringe, 50g sugar to 1 egg whitewith an extra 50g of sugar so in this case 6 egg whites to 350g sugar, I made the base and top first, then the 3 rings for the sides. The remaining meringue I used round the edge, my oven was too hot initially hence the darker coloured top, I cooled itdown to finish the sides so they are a better colour. Inside is a strawberry and cream filing.windtorte2


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Plaited Cranberry Bread Wreath

wreathThis week the contestants on the Great British Bake Off tackled bread. I haven’t seen the episode yet but from the trailers it looks challenging to say the least. Show-stoppers were bread sculptures which are very impressive but I’m not sure how practical it would be to make one at home. So this week my take on a show stopping bread was to remake the Cranberry wreath bread which I made at Christmas. It tastes amazing with home made cranberry sauce and baked Camembert. I took a picture of the base to show the plaiting on both sides however sadly it’s a bit blurry. You can find the recipe here.  

wreath base

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Black forest cake

cake 4The Great British Bake Off stated again this week and as (almost) always the first week was cake week. There were Madeira cakes, Walnut cakes and Black Forest Gateaux. When thinking which I would make I wanted to try something a bit different to my normal safe recipes so I decided to use a recipe from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book (which she signed for me at Cake International) and try her Black Forrest Cake which is a fatless sponge made by whisking the eggs and sugar together before folding in the flour and cocoa powder very carefully. I adapted the recipe slightly as I didn’t want to put Kirsch in a cake that my kids would eat so I made a cherry Jam of sorts with Glace cherries, cherry cordial, water and jam sugar, boiling the mixture at 105c for 4 minutes before leaving it to cool and set. 

I increased the cake mixture by half to give 3 layers of sponge and filled with cherry jam and cream. For the top and sides I made dark chocolate ganache and coated the sides in dark chocolate chips. Cream, cherries and a candle completed the look and I had my very own black forest gateau. For any gaming fans out there you may have spotted that it is in fact the Portal Cake. (Portal is a game where a deranged computer promises you cake as an incentive to complete increasingly difficult logic puzzles).

cake 3portal cake

We are big fans of portal in this house and in the past I have also made Companion cube biscuits and The Cake Is a Lie birthday cake.

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